11 Plants and Animals Scientifically Named After Fictional Characters
Scientific names for flora and fauna hail from a variety of sources. Here are 11 of the most unusual Latin names derived from fictional characters in classic novels, plays, and comic books.
1. Oedipina complex // Gamboa Worm Salamander
This species of neotropical salamander is named for Sophocles’s drama Oedipus Rex and Sigmund Freud’s famous psychoanalytic theory based on it.
2. Iago garricki // Longnose Houndshark
3. Bagheera kiplingi // Jumping Spider
This species of Central American jumping spider is named after Bagheera—a benevolent panther who mentors young Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Described in 2009, it was the first predominantly vegetarian spider known to science.
4. Han solo // Trilobite
The genus name, Han, refers to the Han nationality, China’s largest ethnic group. When the time came to assign a species name to this long-extinct trilobite native to modern China, paleontologist Samuel Turvey invoked George Lucas’s beloved nerf herder.
5. Geragnostus waldorfstatleri // Trilobite
6. Gojirasaurus quayi // Dinosaur
Gojira is the original Japanese name for Godzilla, a name that’s appropriate for this 220-million-year-old predator. At nearly 18 feet, it's the earliest-known large carnivorous dinosaur.
7. Gollum suluensis // Sulu Gollumshark
This New Zealand shark is named for Gollum of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It is not, however, also named for George Takei’s character Hikaru Sulu of the original Star Trek series, but rather a sea in the Philippines.
8. Spongiforma squarepantsii // Fungus
You’d think that an animal named for Spongebob Squarepants would be a sponge. But Spongiforma squarepantsii is actually a type of mushroom described in 2010.
9. Sauroniops pachytholus // Dinosaur
Because only the upper skull of this carnivorous dinosaur—including a single eye socket—was found, it was named after another Lord of the Rings villain: the fiery eye of Sauron.
10. Otocinclus batmani // Catfish
The tail spot on this South American armored catfish species reminded ichthyologist Pablo Lehmann of Gotham City’s masked vigilante.